This piece originally appeared on Travel+Leisure. Drive just 10 minutes south of Boone, North Carolina, and you’ll find yourself in the small town of Blowing Rock, three square miles with a lot to offer outdoors enthusiasts, including proximity to whitewater rafting, horseback riding, rock climbing, ziplining, and fishing. Nicknamed the “Crown of the Blue Ridge,” Blowing Rock is also home to the first theme park in the state, the Tweetsie Railroad, which features a petting zoo and rides.
Due in part to this spot’s mild weather—and geography that allows for cool summers and snow sports in the winter months—tourism has been the town's main industry since the late 1800s. Although the town is small (about 1,450 full-time residents), it has nearly 30 restaurants.
Tips for Visiting
For those heading to the Blowing Rock area to fish, be sure to obtain an NC Fishing License before casting your rod. Head to Price Lake, Trout Lake, and Bass Lake—all off the Blue Ridge Parkway that passes through the area and all close to downtown. Kids love to fish in the stocked Broyhill Lake (no license required here). Bonus: it's near Kilwin’s, a favorite spot for ice cream.
One of the state’s most famous attractions is The Blowing Rock, a 250-million-year-old cliff formation that sits 3,000 feet above Johns River Gorge. From here you can see the prominent Grandfather Mountain 14 miles away. Due to a flume formed within the rocky walls of the Gorge, a fairly constant northwest wind can force light objects thrown over the cliff to return again. Because of this anomaly, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! once noted it to be the only place on earth where snow falls upside down.
The most common legend of The Rock involves a man leaping off a cliff only to be sent by the strong wind back into the arms of his lover. While it is highly ill-advised to try anything of that nature, a local official says that things such as a handkerchief, napkin, or a light baseball cap will usually float back to you if the winds are cooperating.
To visit The Rock, park your vehicle at the entrance to the gift shop and ticket booth at 432 The Rock Road. Visitor information can also be obtained at the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, at 132 Park Avenue.
General admission tickets for adults are $7, seniors ages 60 and older and military are $6, children ages 4–11 are $2, and children ages 3 and younger are admitted for free. Hours vary seasonally, so check theblowingrock.com for more information.Explore More: The Best Fall Cocktail Ideas From Five of America’s Best BartendersAmerica's Best Pumpkin FarmsThe Very Best Pumpkin Beer for Fall